Spirituality under lockdown

Congregants now have to be not more than 50 in church and also have to practice social distancing.
Congregants now have to be not more than 50 in church and also have to practice social distancing.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

 

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly introduced us to a new normal and drastically changed many aspects of our lives. Spirituality has been no exception.

In order to encourage social distancing and as a way to curb the spread of the virus, lockdown regulations currently permit religious gatherings limited to only 50 people. In many ways, this has been a new and unfamiliar way of worship.

For millions of believers, the journey towards spiritual growth has always included gathering with fellow believers at least once a week in a place of worship for spiritual renewal and support. This is an opportunity to receive guidance from a spiritual leader and it allows one to share in the beauty of spiritual enlightenment with other believers.

Unfortunately, this is a norm which is now being practiced differently under the new reality, affecting the aspect of community within spirituality.

In the Houghton West Street in Johannesburg, Musjid, which is currently operating under strict lockdown regulations, a lot has had to change. Each prayer service now begins with the screening and sanitizing of all who are present. Throughout the prayers, social distancing is strictly maintained.

"We used to have our five daily prayers in congregation with everyone standing shoulder to shoulder because that is what the Muslim religion encourages.

This aspect has obviously had to be taken away because of social distancing. We have now been standing apart," says Qari Yusuf Osman, Imam of the Houghton Musjid.

According to Bishop Mosa Sono of the Grace Bible Church, the importance of community within one's spiritual journey means people can give one another support and assistance where needed.

"Giving support can still be done virtually but what we have found is that personal contact is the most effective way of being able to have community with people. In light of the current pandemic and the protocols that must be observed, it is very difficult to do so," says Sono.

Yoga is good for one's mental and spiritual strength
Yoga is good for one's mental and spiritual strength

Before the pandemic, the church, welcomed no less than 9,000 congregants in Pimville, Soweto, each Sunday.

With the easing of lockdown regulations, the church opened its doors and hosted services of not more than 50 people for only two weeks. While these services were successful, they were different as a large portion of the Grace family was not able to attend.

The church has since decided to close. For now, congregants worship on virtual platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. Morning services are also aired on Soweto TV every Sunday morning.

Unlike Grace Bible Church, the Nan Hua Buddhist Temple in Bronkhorstspruit did not open under alert level 3. Being the largest Buddhist temple in Africa, it offers various Buddhist events and retreats.

Moreover, tourists from different parts of the world visit the Temple to learn more about Buddhist teachings.

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